CPA Public Affairs
March 2021

Propane can be a better choice than electric when full lifecycle is considered

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The Propane Education and Research Council recently released a study that analyzes the carbon footprint of medium- and heavy-duty (MD-HD) engine vehicles powered by propane and electricity.

The analysis, Decarbonization of MD-HD Vehicles with Propane, found that propane-fuelled MD-HD internal combustion engine vehicles provide a lower carbon footprint solution in 38 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., when compared to MD-HD electric vehicles (EVs) charged using the electrical grid.

The study also shows that MD-HD vehicles powered by renewable propane provide a lower carbon footprint solution in every U.S. state except Vermont, where electricity is generated by and imported from Canadian hydroelectric power plants.

"It's often assumed that full electrification of all sectors will lead to their full decarbonization, but little thought on how electricity is currently generated, stored, transmitted, and consumed has been considered," said the author Dr. Gokul Vishwanathan, director of research & sustainability at the Propane Education & Research Council. "While a fully renewable-based electric grid is not feasible anytime soon, propane is an effective solution today for accelerating decarbonization of transportation."

Closer to us, in Canada, the recent proposed Clean Fuel Standard regulation indicates that the carbon intensity of electricity in a province in which a charging station is located is:

  • (a) 31 g/MJ for British Columbia;
  • (b) 217 g/MJ for Alberta;
  • (c) 222 g/MJ for Saskatchewan;
  • (d) 15 g/MJ for Manitoba;
  • (e) 17 g/MJ for Ontario;
  • (f) 7 g/MJ for Quebec;
  • (g) 95 g/MJ for New Brunswick;
  • (h) 245 g/MJ for Nova Scotia;
  • (i) 71 g/MJ for Prince Edward Island;
  • (j) 20 g/MJ for Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • (k) 339 g/MJ for Nunavut;
  • (l) 42 g/MJ for Yukon;
  • (m) 75 g/MJ for the Northwest Territories.

It is clear that propane-fuelled vehicles (at 66 g/MJ) are a much better solution in several parts of Canada.


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